tv PBS News Hour PBS August 5, 2010 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: good 50 *e6 tpheuplg, i'm judy wood rough. the senate confirmed elena kagan as the 112th justice and the fourth woman ever to sit on the united states supreme court. >> suarez: i'm ray suarez on the newshour tonight, law professors paul butler and nicholas quinn rosenkranz examine how kagan's confirmation might change the pitch that over the high court. >> woodruff: then professor robert george and attorney jennifer pi sk *rbgser talk abot what's next for same-sex marriage. >> suarez: tom bearden reports from the gulf coast where
worries remain even after b.p.'s well was capped. >> they're still cleaning up the beaches but the big question in many people's minds is what happens when the oil stops coming ashore? >> woodruff: from flood-ravaged pakistan, jonathan miller of independent television news has the latest on the scram to believe help those in need of food and helter. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this is the engine that
connects abundant grain from the american heartland to haran's best selling whole wheat, while keeping 60 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere every year. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president obama now has a second u.s. supreme court justice as part of his legacy. elena kagan was confirmed today
in if senate by a vote of 63-37. five republicans joined all but one democrat and two independents in voting yes. the senate action came three months after president obama announced kagan's nomination in the east room of the white house. she'll join justices ruth bader ginsburg and sonia sotomayor as the third woman serving on the court, the most ever at one time. late today, the president hailed the outcome. >> today's vote wasn't just an affirmation of elena's intellect and accomplishments, it was also an affirmation of her character and her temperament, he open mindedness and even handedness, her determination to hear all sides of every story and consider all possible arguments . >> woodruff: kagan's asses tonight the high court came despite sharp criticism throughout the process from most republicans. they attacked kagan's move as
dean of harvard law school to block military recruiters from the school's career services office. she argued the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military violated harvard policy. but texas senator john cornyn said kagan's actions raised red flags about her. >> dean kagan's actions in taking every step legally possible to relegate the military to what she herself believed was separate but equal st-t us the placed an unmistakable stigma on the military during a time of war. now, her decision to stigmatize the military, i believe, is reason enough to oppose her nomination to a lifetime seat on the united states supreme court. but her actions as dean are troubling for another reason as well .
i believe it indicates strong evidence that as a justice, someone sitting in judgment on the united states supreme court, she would tend to advance her political preferences rather than take a traditional approach of a judge in following the law . >> woodruff: other republicans targeted kagan's lack of judicial experience. for the past year she has served as solicitor general, the nation's top lawyer. she was also a lawyer and policy advisor in the clinton white house. she clerked for supreme court justice thurgood marshall in the late 1980s. but she has not served as a judge, as alabama senator jeff sessions pointed out. >> she has been more deeply involved in politics than law and has frequently put her politics above law. she's never been a judge, never argued even a case before a jury. she has practiced law for just three years.
she has less real legal experience than any nominee in the last half century. >> reporter: new york democrat charles schumer said republicans claim kagan would be an activist but don't mind the current court's wiping away decades of precedent. >> this conservative majority has become the most activist court certainly in decades. these truly activist decisions show little respect for congress, for the executive branch, and for the well settled understandings that american people commonly hold about our democracy . yet somehow they label general kagan as an activist because she wants to follow precedent. that's not fair and true. >> reporter: a handful of republicans supported the nomination. speaking tuesday night, senator lindsey graham of south carolina says he gives the president the benefit of the doubt. >> i have no problem with elena
kagan as a person. i have no problem with her academic background. i have no problem with her experience as a lawyer even though she has worked for justices that i would not have ruled like, even though she has taken up political cause s i oppose, that to me is just part of democracy. >> woodruff: kagan's first day on the bench will come in october when the court begins its fall term. we get two different views now on how the newly confirmed justice may affect the makeup and the direction of the high court. nicholas quinn rosenkranz teaches constitutional law at the georgeup to university law center and paul butler is a professor of law at the george washington university law school. gentlemen, thank you both for being with us. paul better will, to you first, we just heard the president say
it's not just her intellect but her character and temperament that she brings. what does she bring? how will she change this court ? >> so she's replacing justice tea is stevens who is an old school liberal in the mode of thurgood marshall. he was an ideologue and in the end an angry old man. he'd write the opinion saying "nobody on the court when i joined 35 years ago would have thought this." elena kagan, she's a new school moderate, a pragmatist, kind of in the mode of the president who appointed her. she's good at making deals with conservatives so she probably isn't going to take the court in a left direction but she'll be good at moderating the conservatives. having them go not so far out on a limb in their opinions. >> woodruff: nicholas rosenkranz, a moderating stphors a pragmatic force on this court? >> well, i think there's every reason to believe that justice
kagan will be a reliable liberal vote, she is replacing a liberal justice and i think she will end up being a consistent liberal vote. but she's extremely smart and has... she's very open minded and she's won the respect on people on both sides of the aisle. so at a minimum i think she will give both sides a fair hearing. but at the end of the day i think we can expect she'll be a consistent liberal vote. >> woodruff: is that consistent with what you're saying, paul butt stphrer. >> well, it takes a while to grow into your role on the court, so just sonia sotomayor and justice designate kagan will take some time to kind of grow into themselves. so at the end she'll kind of have the same votes at justice stevens but she wroept v the same force in terms of rhetoric . the hope is maybe she can use
the same kind of skills of persuasion that she used at harvard law school so maybe she'll take justice stevens out to starbucks to say "could you moderate your opinion, do you have to say that?" and there she might really be influential. she's brilliant and she's charm ing and that's something that other than justice sonia sotomayor we haven't seen with so many of the progressives on the court. >> woodruff: nicholas rosenkranz, is that the way it works? that not just by force of her intellect but the personality, the skills of persuasion could affect her ability to make a difference on this court? >> well, i'm sure that's what president obama is hoping and she is undoubt edly very charismatic and very persuasive . but the other justices have been doing this for quite a while and they're very much their own people. it's hard to imagine she's going to arrive at the court and instantly be changing minds in
any sort of dramatic way. she's very charismatic and per situation soy i'm sure she will be having conversations. >> woodruff: not instantly change minds but over time does she have the potential to change thinking? change the direction of the court do you think? >> she's very smart and very charismatic and very persuasive. so i'm sure she will have an affect at the court and i'm sure she veal an affect in her conversations with the other justices. >> woodruff: what about, paul butler, the sheer force of her intellect. you both commented that she's smart. how much difference does that make on the court? >> well, justice sotomayor is brilliant as well. so it takes something more than just being smart. you know, some people hope that justice kagan will be the liberal justice scalia. so no one can deny scalia's brilliance. but he doesn't have a lot of force in the court. he writes these opinions where he throws these flames and it's kind of red meat for the conservatives but not a lot of
other people are persuaded by him. so one role for justice kagan might be that, to just kind of rile up the progressives. but, again, a probably more practical role once suitable for her temperament is to reach out to the conservatives. to kind of make deals with them in the way that you can do as a justice on the highest court in the land. >> woodruff: it's been noted recently, especially a piece in the "new york times" recently, nicholas rosenkranz, that the thesis of that piece was that this is a very conservative court and an activist conservative court. as a baseline, do you agree with that premise? >> i don't really agree with that premise. i would say if you read an article like that or if you hear the claim that the court is particularly conservative or particularly liberal, two questions to ask yourself. first, how are we defining those terms? so what quite do we mean by a liberal decision or a
conservative decision? you might, for example, think that a liberal decision was a decision that defended civil rights or took a broad reading of the bill of rights. but then liberals don't actually always mean all of the bill of rights. so they don't quite mean the second amendment, for example. you might think that a liberal decision is a decision striking down acts of discrimination, but then liberals will define that idea to mean justice discrimination against certain groups but not other groups. you have to be careful to see exactly how these terms are being defined and i think the piece that you're referring to played some games with the definition of those terms. >> woodruff: well... >> and the second thick... >> woodruff: let me just... >> sorry, the second thing you need to keep your eye on is who is making these claims? so often times you'll hear from legal academics that the court is extremely conservative. you have to remember that the legal academy itself is extraordinarily liberal.
so 90% of them are to the left of nancy pelosi. so from where they sit, the court looks quite conservative. >> woodruff: paul butler, i ask this question because it, of course, has bearing on where elena kagan may or may not take the court. >> sure, judy. and if you look at chief justice roberts many the last term, an extremely conservative leader of the court who got his way 90% of the time. and so if you look at the significant opinions where the court gives corporations first amendment rights, where it restricts gun control, we see a court that's really taking the country outside the mainstream in areas like corporate power, abortion, civil rights. so, you know, i don't think it's a direction that most of the country wants to see us go in. >> woodruff: and so given that, elena kagan can do what on this court? >> well, one, she, i hope, will
be a consistent reliable vote and, again, she can temper the rhetoric of the court. rhetoric's real important, they put a line in one opinion and it later turns out to have a whole lot of force in another opinion. and, you know, she can be... she can a b a face, a kind of nice face for the progressive movement to show that what progressives want isn't really so scary, it's not out of the mainstream, just good old-fashioned civil right, civil liberties, american values. >> woodruff: very quickly, nicholas rosenkranz, the fact that she will be the third woman serving at the same time on the court, will her gender have a bearing on what this court does? >> no, i doubt that it will. the job of a supreme court justice is to read carefully and parse carefully the words of the u.s. constitution and the words of u.s. statutes. and it really shouldn't have an affect on that project, what your gender is.
i think justice kagan is a superb lawyer and she will be an excellent reader of legal texts and that's what matters, really. >> woodruff: paul butler, quickly, a word on that. >> you know, she'll vote, i think, a lot like justice sotomayor and skwrupbs ginsburg. so there will be some temptations for scholars to look at a feminist jurisprudence but it's usually different from how justice o'connor have voted. some people say women justices are more con says us is builders. we'll have a critical mass of women on the court so it's great news for the over half of law students who are women. it's another crack in the glass ceiling. >> woodruff: paul butler, nicholas rosenkranz, thank you both. >> great to be here. >> suarez: still to come on the newshour, what next for same-sex marriages? the oil spill cleanup and rescue and relief efforts in pakistan. but first, the other news of the die, here's kwame holman in our newsroom. >> holeman: the u.s. senate today adopted a $26 billion aid package for state and local governments, a day after
breaking a filibuster. the money would help states fund medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, and it could save the jobs of 300,000 teachers, police, and other public employees. the house now plans to make a quick return from its august resays next week to give the bill final approval. wall street faltered today after news that new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week. they'd been expected to fall. the dow jones industrial average lost five points. to close under 10,675. the nasdaq was down ten points to close at 2, 293. an annual report concludes health care reform will keep medicare solvent for an extra 12 years, through 2029. the program's trustees issued that finding today. at the same time, their own actuary warned that the savings envisioned under reform may never be realized and on social security, the report said it will pay out more than it collects every year after 2015 and be exhausted by 2037.
the department today demanded wikileaks return $15,000 classified documents on the war in afghanistan. the web site is believed to hold them. the site published 77,000 u.s. military documents last month. it was said to be reviewing the rest. defense secretary robert gates and others have charged the leaks jeopardized u.s. troops and their afghan allies. pentagon smoke man jeff morrell followed up today. >> public disclosure of additional department classified information can only make the damage worse. the only acceptable course is for wikileaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the u.s. government and permanently delete them from its web site, computers, and records. >> holeman: also today, wikileaks posted a large enscripted file on its site and named it "insurance." company officials would not say it's designed to be released in the event anyone tries to take
down the site. 14 people, mostly u.s. citizens, have been charged with providing support to a terror group based in somalia. the suspects in minnesota, california, and alabama were accused today of providing money and fighters to al-shabab. that militant organization is believed to have ties to al qaeda. last month, al-shabab claimed responsibility for bombings in uganda during the world cup final in south africa. 76 people were killed. in the netherlands, british model naomi campbell appeared today at the war crimes trial of charles taylor, the former liberian ruler allegedly used so-called blood diamonds to arm rebels in neighboring see ceci sierra leone. it's been alleged she received some of the diamonds at a charity event. we have a robert from robert moore of independent television news. >> ma'am, would you please give your name. >> naomi campbell. >> reporter: the key question for her: did the accused, the former liberian president and warlord charles taylor, give her some diamonds as a gift one
night in south africa 13 years ago. >> when i was sleeping i heard a knock at my door and i opened my door and two men where there and gave me a pouch and said "a gift for you." >> when you opened up this pouch, what did you discover? >> i saw a few stones in there. and they were very small dirty looking stones. they were kind of dirty looking pebbles. they were not... they were dirty... i don't know. when i'm used to seeing diamonds, i'm used to seeing diamonds shiny and in a box, you know? that's the kind of diamonds i'm used to seeing. >> reporter: diamonds were the currency that fueled sierra leone's savage civil war. but was the gift actually from taylor who, in 2006, was arrested and charged with war crimes? a fellow guest that night, the actress mia farrow, thought so.
>> what did you think? >> i assumed it was. >> why? >> i don't know. i don't know anything about charles taylor, never heard of him before, never heard of the country liberia before. i never heard of the term of blood diamonds before. so i just assumed that it was . >> the prosecution then posed the obvious question. >> where are these stones today? >> with. many ratcliffe. >> reporter: jeremy ratcliffe is the former head of nelson mandela's charity. many questions still remain. where exactly did these diamonds come from? are they still with jeremy radcliffe, the man she gave them to? but most importantly, are they the missing link between charles taylor and the funding of a civil war? it was certainly compelling theater, but the prosecution struggled to prove that taylor was behind the gift. and it may be another year before the court decides his face. >> holeman: in south africa, a spokesman for nelson man's l.a.'s charity said the fund never received the diamonds.
the people of kenya have overwhelmingly accepted a new constitution: final results today showed 67% of voters favor it had draft document. it includes a bill of rights and paves the way for land reform. it also curtail it is sweeping powers give on the the president under the old constitution written in 1963. those are some of the day's major stories. now back to ray. >> suarez: and to the fallout from the ruling in california on same-sex marriage. ♪ going to the chapel and we're triumphant group's song and celebrations in the streets of san francisco, one sound was notably absent after yesterday's ruling on proposition 8-- actual wedding bells. because even though federal district judge vaughn walker nullified california's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, he did not immediately vacate the law pending appeal. but the judge firmly declared
the ban unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause of the u.s. constitution. he wrote: opponents of stkpwaeurpblg claim walker was swayed more by personal interests than the law. robert thomasson leads savecalifornia.com. >> the judge has imposed his own agenda on the voters and children and the parents of california. >> suarez: an appeal of the decision was filed today with the ninth circuit court of appeal which is covers nine western states. from there, the issue is almost certainly bound for the u.s. supreme court. the supreme court has handed down several decisions in recent years regarding gay right bus none on the question of marriage.
>> ted and i have a deal. he's going to get the five justices justices that voted for him in bush. have gore and i'm going to get the four justices who voted for me in bush v. gore. >> reporter: the two lead plaintiff's attorneys in the case, david boies and ted olson, were on opposite sides when they battled over the 2000 presidential race. on wednesday after the gay marriage ruling, they were asked what might happen on appeal. >> the fundamental right to marry is already established by ample supreme court precedent. in light of that, we believe the constitutional violation of depriving gay and lesbian citizens of this fundamental right is very clear and we believe that that will be held by the ninth circuit court of the appeals and the united states supreme court. >> suarez: by contrast, defense lawyers argued the supreme court has never recognized any such right. as a result they called just two witnesses.
five states now permit gay marriage-- vermont, new hampshire, massachusetts, iowa, and connecticut. it's also allowed in the district of columbia. maryland and new york recognize same-sex unions from other jurisdictions but do not permit the practice. the california case could become the vehicle that leads to legalization nationwide . for now, no dates set for hearing the appeal much less any forecast of when the case will go before the nine justices of the u.s. supreme court. we take a closer look now at what comes next. jennifer pieser is senior counsel and director of the marriage project for the lambda legal defense fund which worked against proposition eight and robert george is the founder of the american principles project, a conservative group that supported proposition 8. he's a professor of jurisprudence at princeton university. professor, let me start with you. today the notice to appeal was filed, a formality. but what does flipping the switch do?
what do the two teams involved in the original case start doing now? >> well, they start to prepare their briefs and arguments before the appeal which will be before a three-judge panel of the ninth circuit. they will then either uphold judge walker or reverse him. however, that comes out, it will likely then lead toe a petition for a hearing on bonk, that is to have all the judges of the ninth circus reviewing the case and however that comes out it will go to the supreme court of the united states. it's a peculiarity of our system that a decision as fateful as this one might very well fall to a single judge's decision, but that judge won't be vaughn walker, that judge might very well be anthony kennedy, justice anthony kennedy, the supreme court of the united states. >> suarez: that first appeal, how many judges in the ninth circuit hear and that and how are they chosen? >> randomly and it will be a three-judge panel in the first instance. and then the entirety of the court will make a decision about
whether to hear it as a group enbank. either way it won't end there. it will go to the supreme court of the united states, it doesn't matter whether the ninth circuit reverses or affirms judge walker. it will be before the supreme court of the united states. >> suarez: jennifer hisser, judge walker ruled on specific due process equal protection grounds. does his ruling in effect create the grounds on which the appeal is argued? >> i think the most important thing judge walker did was heard the testimony of a great many witnesses and provided by a detail set of findings of fact hisser addressing the interests that had been advanced by the prop 8 defenders, the reasons that they say prop 8 should be upheld as constitutional. judge walker heard professors and experts and his findings examine their credentials and make a series of conclusions. the appellate courts as a general matter defer to factual
findings made by a trial judge when a judge has heard live witness testimony. so that i think is the most important thing to keep in mind. judge walker also did legal analysis under the substantive due process clause and also equal protection analysis. his reasoning will be the starting point for the ninth circuit judges who hear the case. they will have legal briefs from both sides and perhaps from many friends of the court offering additional ways of looking at the issues. the three judge panel will look at the legal analysis afresh as is always done for legal analysis. but i think very much informed by the factual findings put together by judge walker. >> suarez: when you say additional ways of looking at the issue, does that mean both sides can bring up things they didn't bring up in the original trial ? >> well, a great many arguments with -r made to judge walker in the briefs and there were friend of the court briefs submitted to judge walker. so there have been many
different perspectives on the issues. equality law in constitutional jurisprudence is quite complicated and there's a surprising number of unanswered questions when it come tots antigay discrimination. for example, should anti-guy rules presumptively be seen as suspect. that's an open question where it's been resolved for quite a long time for other types of group based discrimination such as race or sex or discrimination based on religion. so there's been a lot of analysis of that and similarly there are different ways of thinking about substantive due process or liberty, as we say, and so the different perspectives were given to judge walker. he gave his reading, he's offered two different important ways of considering the equal protection analysis and all of that, i think, will be the starting place for the ninth circuit judges. >> suarez: professor george, when they get started will the fact that the supporters of
proposition 8 put on a very briefcase hamper them at all until appeal? or do they get, in effect, a fresh start? >> no, i don't believe that it will hamper them. i believe there will be a lot of friend of the court briefs filed on both sides . there will be a lot of information that will come across the table for the appeals court, both the ninth circuit and the supreme court of the united states that weren't there in the case of the trial judge. so i think that while it's true that the analysis will begin with the findings of fact that judge walker recorded in his opinion, a great deal more information is going to be under consideration at both levels. ultimately again it's going to be the reflections of the supreme court justices in the arguments that they entertain and in the end accept and reject that will determine the outcome here. >> suarez: professor george, many times during the a case vaughn walker, judge walker,
cited as support for his view previous supreme court rulings, notably involved gay rights in texas and in colorado . does that bind an appeals stkphort do they have to defer to supreme court precedent? >> yes, but there's not a precedent that is on point here. it's a fresh issue as far as the court of the united states is concerned. now there's an irony and peculiarity here, especially with the texas case you're referring to which i believe is "lawrence v. texas" which struck down a texas anti-sodomy law on constitutional grounds and in that case the decisive vote was cast by justice kennedy who in his opinion said now, look, nothing in this ruling, nothing in my argument here is meant to have bearing one way or another on the marriage question. but justice scalia writing by way of criticism of justice kennedy in dissent said don't believe it for a moment. so here's the irony, ray.
it's going to be people on the anti-prop 8 side who will be saying scalia had that one right and people on the pro-prop 8 side who are going to be saying kennedy had that one right. >> if i could just address that for a second. i agree in part with what was just said in that the "lawrence v. texas" case which is a case my colleagues litigated resulted in, i think, the most important legal precedent for this litigation where justice kennedy wrote that both the liberty guarantee and equality guarantees are especially related when it comes to a minority group and in particular lesbian and gay americans being denied the same freedom to have a family life that heterosexual americans have. there's an equality problem with respect to basic liberty. and while justice kennedy said he was not deciding the marriage question in that case-- which he was not-- the principle will apply i think, or certainly should apply, in the same way. and the colorado case that you
just mentioned is also a very important precedent because that, like this litigation, involved a voter-passed initiative that took away the rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people living in colorado. there was a trial, there was evidence that was very help to feel the judges at every stage of that case, including at the u.s. supreme court where, again, justice kennedy looked at the evidence and he concluded that equal protection had been violated very much informed by the factual record. >> suarez: we'll have to continue the conversation when the appeals process continues. jennifer pizer, robert george, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, the cleanup on the gulf coast. and pakistan's flood disaster. but first, we're taking a short break so tha
july and yet's report from the government that much of the oil in the water has dissipated. but along the gulf coast a considerable amount of work and skepticism remains. newshour correspondent tom bearden reports from venice, louisiana . >> reporter: the b.p. well may be capped but you wouldn't know it from all the oil that's still washing up on this beach. people are still laboriously scooping it up with shovels, still having to endure the august heat and humidity . it took us nearly an hour to reach these beaches from the main operating base in venice and this is just one zone where a work force of over 2,000 ventures out everyday. you guys have a huge area you cover. >> we do . when you look at our 17 divisions from barataria by a, bell chase is up here. >> reporter: fred "le monde" is in charge of b.p.'s clean up operations in the gulf. >> we know there's still oil out
there and our job is to make sure we protect the coastline. >> reporter: the workers gather each day shortly after dawn for the commute. some live near headquarters, others live in floating hotels . the government has announced that three quarters of the oil spilled has disapaoefrd. the remaining one-fourth is still a big problem. >> it is. it comes in as... we call them tar balls sometimes or lily pads that come in on the ocean. they roll up the tide as it comes in can actually come and deposit them right on the beach and then the tide rolls out so we address them in that manner but what also happens is as the time comes in the surf comes in each day it can deposit a little layer of sand over the top of them. it's important not to just look at the surface but subsurface. it goes down and sometimes penetrate it is soil a bit. >> reporter: at the command center, coast guard and contract workers stare raptedly at
computer screens tracking oil and decide tong best places to send people. coast guard commander claudia gelzer is in charge. we. >> we're style finding oil and looking hard for oil. we have reconnaissance flights that go up sometimes as many as six times a day. we have boats on the water. looking for oil before it get there is and we are working on protecting critical sensitive areas with boom and other mechanical means to bring the oil out of the water. >> reporter: gelzer says it's a far cry from the early days. >> it's grown up from about six people here working off of the hood of a car to a large command sent we are logistic support and finance bringing in tons of equipment stao-to-people looking for the oil trying to get it out of the water. >> people think the government and b.p. are getting ready to disband this and leave before the job is done. >> i'm worried when the cameras are going and the oil on top is cleaned up we're going to be
left with it . >> ryan lam spwert a charter boat captain. >> reporter: b.p. says they'll be here for the end. >> it's all perception, what is the end? what's the definition of the end ? until you show me what you're testing, all the parts that... the animals and the fish, not just the meat and find a test for the dispersants and publish the findings, don't tell me the e.p.a. and f.d.a. said it's fine i want to know what thigh tested and how they tested it and i want the results . then i might have the confidence so to say we're all right. >> lambert thinks most of the surface oil is gone and is no longer a threat. it's not the surface he's worried about. >> there's tons of it on the bottom. one of my guides was doing biology day before yesterday. he put his boat in reverse, oil came flying off off the bottom.
so there's still tons of it underneath the water. put it understood watter where you can't see it and let the microbes get it. well, guess that? it's not going to be that easy. >> this is a forge fish called a thread herring. >> reporter: jim cowin and his associates at louisiana state university are among dozens of groups of researchers trying to assess the ecological damage from the b.p. spill earlier this week, they collected samples of fish and shrimp from the affected estuaries and are now in the process of measuring, dissecting and analyzing them. >> the bottom line is we don't know how much chronic exposure, how much toxicity, how much is actually buried in the sediments how long the areas that were heavily impacted by oil will leach those compounds from the areas during rainstorms and during tropical storms. >> reporter: cowan also questions the government's claim
that much of the oil is gone. >> there's no way given at one point the oil slick was the size of the state of kansas and we know that there were numerous plumes of oil below the sea there's no way there's been time to do a full assessment of what may be beneath the surface and i think that's what most of us are a little bit more worried about now. >> a lot of people we've talked to are very concerned that the country's attention will shift away and leave louisiana holding the bag. do you share that sentiments. >> absolutely . my biggest sphere that now the well is killed, the beaches are clean people are going to walk away and forget about louisiana again. >> commander gelzer says there are no plans to start shutting down, at least not yet. is there a process where after you don't find out you start to scale backing? >> well, if there is they
haven't told me about it. they have me focused on kind of what's going on in the long term , nothing has changed for us, we have no plans to scale things down at this level and until we see days without oil we won't enter into those conversations. >> reporter: cleanup chief friend le monday is featured in b.p. television ads reassuring people the company will work until the cleanup is complete. >> i grew up on the gulf coast and i love these waters. as long as there's oil out there that can make it ashore, i'm going to do everythingic to stop it. >> reporter: he says the same thing in person, that they'll be here for as long as it takes. does anybody have any sense about how long oil might be coming ashore in the spill? weeks? months? >> it really is hard to say. a lot of folks are looking at that thinking about it but it's difficult to determine how long that will be. so that's why we come everyday .
we're doing our recon, it's difficult to determine. >> gulf residents say if b.p. is committed to staying until the end, it means their mission will last for many years to come. : >> suarez: there was no letup to the widespread flooding in pakistan today. more than four million people have been affected and heavy monsoon rains are in the forecast for the next three days. jonathan miller of independent television news visited one area of punjab province in the eastern part of the country where entire villages have been swallowed by the rising floodwaters. >> it's an horrendous confluence of trouble and pakistan is struggling. more torrential monsoon rain is forecast, hampering evacuation and relief work as the floodwaters continue to surge south . the pakistan met off today expressing alarm as it predicted
a weekend deluge in the south. the u.n., too, warning that the catastrophe threatens to worsen with ever-larger tracts of land submerged. there are war these a dam could burst. half a million people are urgently being moved out of harm's way along the lower indus river. >> (translated): the first of our tasks is to use boat to rescue those trapped in floodwaters and take them to relief camps and then get to those in areas out of reach. >> reporter: this is punjab, pakistan's fertile rice bowl where there this year's rice crop is destroyed. what happened here could be a taste of things to come in southern send down river. we've learned tonight that the army has now deployed 2,000 troops to wage war against the watt we are. villagers attempt to plug the holes in vain, victims of meteorological depression
. the rain is still lashing down in places and from above a view of thor chards of punjab. >> 161 villages have been affected. around 1.5 million population has been rendered homeless. >> reporter: but government officials do not have a grip on this crisis and pakistan's islamist humanitarian groups have capitalized on this in the worse hit areas amongst the poorest of the poor . >> (translated): have you seen any government officials? there's no one from the government here. the only ones providing help are our muslim brothers and we're not here from political reasons, we're simply here to provide help. >> >> (translated): we are grateful to this group for providing aid and if one day they need our help we will be ready to sacrifice ourselves for them. >> reporter: on the far bank of the indus river, the this town sits in a hostile environment. the river has partially
destroyed it while in the mountains behind, jihadi groups, among them lash a e toy be, wage war against a government rapidly losing the faith of its people. has there been any outside step? >> no help . >> reporter: the residents are dealing with the aftermath themselves, for them the worst isover. the indus river is in full flood here still. its waters destroying everything along its banks as it moves south. up here in punjab, thousands of villagers have been affected, 25,000 homes destroyed, and as the river breaches its defensive banks, ricelands have been inundated, destroying crops. and in punjab, even as the waters recede, they rise and surge further south, posing an ever-greater risk to the cities of hide a bad and karachi. tonight evacuations are underway in sindh and the southern cities are bracing themselves for the worst.
>> suarez: the world food programme plans on reaching some 250,000 people this week. the u.n. group said as many as 1. million people in one province alone are in need of food assistance . >> woodruff: the senate confirmed elena kagan to the u.s. supreme court. president obama said he's confident she'll make an outstanding justice. b.p. finished pumping cement into its damaged well into the gulf of mexico. the newshour is online. kwame hole hahn previews what's there. kwame? >> holeman: we have more on elena kagan, today's senate vote and her today are the supreme court. tom bearden blogs from the gulf coast about local residents who are worried that oil cleanup efforts will wind down too soon. plus, patchwork nation looks at how tea party candidates fared in this week's primary in missouri. find that on the rundown. all that and more is on our web site, newshour . pbs.org. shea from. >> suarez: that's the newshour for tonight. on friday we'll look at people
called 99ers, americans who've been unemployed for more than 99 weeks. i'm ray suarez. >> woodruff: i'm judy wood rough. see you online and tomorrow evening with ruth marcus and michael gerson filling in for mark shields and david brooks. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting.